The Macomb Daily
All-Star weekend arrives, as players head to Salt Lake City
If so inclined, and if fellow captain LeBron James was to cooperate with his own selections, Giannis Antetokounmpo could pick Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid and Lauri Markkanen to play on his team Sunday night.
Imagine that: an All-International All-Star starting lineup.
It’s one of the many possibilities for this weekend’s events in Salt Lake City.
NBA All-Star weekend is almost here, with many of the principals arriving in Utah on Thursday and a few more set to arrive on Friday in time for the official three-day lineup to begin. More than 60 players from the NBA and G League will be part of the showcase — the AllStar Game on Sunday, the dunk, 3-point and skills competitions on All-Star Saturday, and the Rising Stars games for first- and second-year players on Friday.
“You can never take this for granted,” said Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks forward who is heading to his seventh All-Star Game. “You never know how many times more you’re going to be an All-Star. I don’t take this for granted. And by the way, thanks for all the fans who voted for me as captain. I don’t take that for granted. We have to go there, have fun, enjoy the time with our kids.”
Of the 10 starters on Sunday night, barring any changes to the rosters because of injuries, six were born outside the
U.S., which is a record. The nine internationally born All-Stars ties a record.
It’s a homecoming of sorts for Donovan Mitchell, the Cleveland guard who spent the first five years of his NBA career in Utah until he was traded last summer. Mitchell still has deep ties to Utah; he’s throwing a comedy show for charity this weekend to benefit Kearns High School, a place that he worked closely with when he played for the Jazz.
“You learn to appreciate those moments,” said Mitchell, who had to miss last year’s All-Star Game in Cleveland because of an upper respiratory issue. “You learn to appreciate those things because they saw me grow up. I was a young kid, just happy to be drafted and then given a role to be one of the leaders on the team early, making the playoffs, having big moments, having struggles, ups and downs. And to grow into who I am today, I’m forever grateful, forever thankful.”
For some — Minnesota’s Anthony Edwards, Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox, Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Indiana’s Tyrese Haliburton, Memphis’ Jaren Jackson Jr. and Markkanen of the host Jazz — this will be their first All-Star Game appearance.
For James, it’s his 19th trip to an All-Star Game. And this one will be like none other, with the NBA set to pay tribute to him passing Kareem AbdulJabbar earlier this month as the league’s career scoring leader with a halftime ceremony on Sunday night.